Marie Kreutzer's new film is a bold and timely reflection on a woman’s worth and agency in 19th century Europe that pulls back the curtain on Empress Elisabeth (Phantom Thread’s Vicky Krieps), revealing the modern aspirations and darkest secrets of this disruptive early influencer.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria is idolised for her beauty and renowned for inspiring fashion trends. But in 1877, 'Sissi' celebrates her 40th birthday and must fight to maintain her public image by lacing her corset tighter and tighter.
While Elisabeth’s role has been reduced against her wishes to purely performative, her hunger for knowledge and zest for life makes her more and more restless in Vienna. She travels to England and Bavaria, visiting former lovers and old friends, seeking the excitement and purpose of her youth. With a future of strictly ceremonial duties laid out in front of her, Elisabeth rebels against the hyperbolised image of herself and comes up with a plan to protect her legacy.
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